Katie Norton is a powerlifter who is hard of hearing and is passionate about advocacy for the deaf and hard of hearing. While she was very grateful to be able to get her first COVID vaccine, she noticed that communication wasn’t as clear and easy as it could be. She posted these two TikTok videos to offer tips on how to make vaccine sites more accessible to the deaf or hard of hearing.
One of her tips was to have a piece of paper with the questions, so the person at the vaccine site could point to the questions instead of having to relay solely on verbal communication. Norton pointed out that it’s impossible to lip read if someone is wearing a mask, so seeing the questions would have alleviated that communication barrier. “This accommodation really isn’t asking that much,” Norton said. It would make such a difference to the person getting the vaccine, whether they are hard of hearing, elderly, or if English isn’t their first language.
If you find yourself in this situation, you can have a paper and pen ready, and let the person helping you know that you are deaf or hard of hearing. Then they can write down the questions or info they need, and you can write down your answers. The more you do this, the more awareness you’ll bring to the need for accessibility.